7 Differences Between a Tourist and Traveler

7 Differences: A Tourist vs. A Traveler

There are two main types of people who travel: travelers and tourists. 

While neither is inherently bad or good, they possess very different characteristics that ultimately give them completely different experiences while venturing out into the world.

Here are some of the differentiating factors between the two types:

A TOURIST sticks out; A TRAVELER blends in

Selfie sticks, clogging up the sidewalk while staring at a map, socks with sandals... we’ve all seen this type of tourist stick out like a sore thumb. Tourists tend to draw (sometimes negative) attention to themselves with certain types of socially abnormal behaviors.

A traveler does their best to blend in with the locals. They look like they know where they are going (even if they don’t), they dress the part, and they make attempts to adhere to the social norms of where they are.

A TOURIST eats comfort food; A TRAVELER tries out the local cuisines

A tourist will only stick to foods that they are familiar with, which sometimes includes popular food chains. 

A traveler knows that food is the link to any culture.  They are willing to step out of their comfort zone to try out local dishes in order to taste the country’s culture.

A TOURIST only sightsees; A TRAVELER converses with locals

A tourist stays within their comfort zone and only sticks with seeing the main, popular sights.  They don’t really make an effort to go out and meet people except those who they are traveling with.

A traveler makes an effort to meet people from all over.  They try to talk with locals, find out the best (secret) things the city has to offer, or discover unique stories that you can’t find in travel books.  Travelers know that locals are the best resource to use when exploring somewhere new.

TOURISTS dress for comfort; TRAVELERS dress for style and comfort

Tourists normally only pack clothes that they will be “comfortable” in when traveling.  Not only can this sometimes be unfashionable, but also run the risk of not being respectful to a country’s fashion norms (be it religious, cultural, etc.).

Travelers are a bit smarter when packing and know that style and comfort CAN go hand in hand.  They make sure to bring clothes that are functional and fashionable, and also include any items that adhere to cultural norms.

TOURISTS stick to their native tongue; TRAVELERS make an attempt to learn the local language

Tourists will only speak their native tongue and make very little (if any at all) effort to learn any of the local language.

Travelers make an attempt to know at least a few key words or phrases to use when traveling abroad.  They know that learning how to say simple things like “please,” “thank you,” and “hello” make much more of a difference when traveling in a country that speaks a different language.

TOURISTS buy the first (overpriced) souvenirs they find; TRAVELERS stick it out for the deals

Tourists are easily drawn to the awe of the local souvenir shops, which tend to be a rip off.  They think that those items are what are authentic to the country and are willing to settle for that.

Travelers take a little more time and effort in their search for local treasures and gems. They know that it takes a little bit of digging to find the best deals and most authentic items to take home with them.

TOURISTS rely on maps; TRAVELERS trust their instincts

Tourists rely heavily on their maps to tell them how to get from popular sight to popular sight.  They can sometimes miss out on the adventure that is exploring and getting lost in a place that isn’t home.

Travelers trust their instinctive nature to tell them where to go and what to explore.  This isn’t to say that they don’t use Google Maps here and there, but they aren’t afraid of getting lost and having an adventure. To them, getting lost means seeing beautiful things you might have never seen before.

Do you feel like you fall into one of the two categories? Comment below!

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